By Alan Keyes
Though these days many people claim to accept the notion that trust in God involves an irrational “leap of faith,” when the Bible portrays the trust that God accounts as righteousness, it seems rather to be based on the actual experience of the righteous. They are often reacting to awesome events that impress them with God’s presence and power, but they also do not hesitate to ask for such evidence when their trust is lacking. So the father of the child beset from infancy by a violent spirit prayed to Jesus Christ: “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.” And Jesus cured his child.
Thousands of years ago, the land of the Jews was situated in the midst of mighty empires known well in their own time and to history thereafter. Israel was not so. It lived mostly in their shadow, with its greatness “known but to God.” Sharing His knowledge with those who set it down in the Scripture, God let it be known that the people of Israel, as His chosen people, would know triumph and suffering; that in faith and faithlessness they would gather and be lifted up in strength before God, or be downcast and scattered among the nations. But, He said, the time would come when “I will be found by you…and I will gather you out of all nations, and from places to which I have driven you out…and I will bring you back….” (Jeremiah 29:14)
I cannot claim to understand all the various times and ways in which God’s foresight is fulfilled. But when I represented the United States in the UN General Assembly, as well as other meetings and conferences, I remember being struck with the fact that the people of Israel, scattered throughout the world, were indeed gathering in the region where once they flourished; and a nation, for centuries lowly in men’s eyes and afflicted by their hate, had indeed become the preoccupation of nations great and small throughout the world, many of them moved by the malign spirit of that hatred to seek Israel’s destruction.
Why do we ask God for miracles when we are present witnesses of a spectacle that fulfills the promises of God, across what seems to us a chasm of scores of centuries, which God has overleaped? Is this not a miracle, requiring nothing of us but ears to hear and eyes to see the confirmation of His power? God’s hypothesis was set down in the words of the prophet. And with precision, across time and space, He sets down before us, as predicted, the vehicle He launched based upon it. Yet we, who call it “empirical evidence” of human science (knowledge) and power when rockets make their way to land on Mars, pretend it is some “leap of faith” to trust the words of God.
According to God’s Word, Israel matters. It matters as the existential focal point of that Divine conception (Jesus Christ) on account of which “they who are of faith…are the sons of Abraham.” It matters as the existential soil in which sprang up the vine whereupon those faithful Gentiles are engrafted whom “God would justify…by faith,” fulfilling the promise to Abraham in which He said, “And I will make of you a great nation…. I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you, and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2, 3)
Nor is the role of Israel complete. For the Lamb is to come again in wrath, but its visitation will not begin until “the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea…sign the servants of our God in their foreheads…an hundred forty-four thousand…of every tribe of the children of Israel.” So in the latter day, children of Israel will stand, and after them “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands.” (Revelation 7:2-3, 9, cf. Genesis 27:29)
Israel matters to God. But should that matter to Christians in the United States? Should it matter to Americans in general? In one respect, the answer is obvious. For, many of those who curse Israel in this day also curse us. Many who seek the death of people in Israel also seek to take our lives. Absent any other facts, this would make it sensible to search out the ground we have in common and build a common defense against their enmity upon it.
But beyond the enmity of others, we Christians profess to pray, as people in Israel do, to the God of all Creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God whom Jesus proclaimed to be the one who sent him; to whom he instructed us to pray, as our Father; whose will he placed above his own, even unto death; and into whose hands he surrendered his spirit at the culmination of his sacrifice upon the Cross. Better than the enmity of others, this common acknowledgment of God provides a focal point for something more than an alliance of convenience if, like Christ, we are truly committed to do God’s will.
That common acknowledgment of the truth and authority of the God who created us, as it makes for common ground between ourselves and Israel, also confirms the common ground we stand upon as a nation. It is the basis for the sense of right that is the substance of our liberty. It is the basis for the stubborn hope that time and again invigorates our confidence and courage. Is it just coincidence that behind false leaders willing to equivocate and betray the common ground we have with Israel, we find ourselves being led away from the ground of God-endowed unalienable right that has been the foundation for all our spiritual, moral and material blessings? Like so many of God’s foretellings, the curse that comes upon those who curse Israel is not so much about their relation to Israel as it is about the enmity to God, of which it may be the consequence.
In this respect, the crisis Obama’s policies have brought upon U.S.-Israeli relations derives from the crisis he brings upon America itself. What is the one thing needed to resolve them both? That we make peace with our Creator, God, thereby returning to the Declaration of self-evident truth that is the firm foundation of our claim to maintain “among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of nature and of Nature’s God” entitle us.